ERIC ED543258: Learning Together: A Study of Six B. A. Completion Cohort Programs in Early Care and Education--Year 3
Publication date 2011-02
Topics ERIC Archive, College Graduates, Adult Students, Nontraditional Students, Bachelors Degrees, Nontraditional Education, Higher Education, Early Childhood Education, Child Care, Child Caregivers, Caregiver Training, Cultural Pluralism, Grouping (Instructional Purposes), Educational Opportunities, Teacher Education, Teacher Education Programs, Practicums, College Curriculum, Student Diversity, Professional Development, Promotion (Occupational), Career Change, Interviews, Student Attitudes, Teacher Attitudes, Program Descriptions, Program Development, Program Effectiveness, Longitudinal Studies, Whitebook, Marcy, Kipnis, Fran, Sakai, Laura, Almaraz, Mirella
The "Learning Together" longitudinal study focuses on four counties' efforts to expand bachelor's degree opportunities in early care and education (ECE) for adults currently working in the field. The "student cohort model"--in which small groups of ECE students with similar interests and characteristics pursue a bachelor's degree together, and receive targeted support services--emerged in Alameda, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, and San Francisco Counties, with programs at Antioch University, California State University-East Bay (CSU-East Bay), Mills College, San Francisco State University (SFSU), San Jose State University (SJSU), and the University of La Verne (ULV). With county, First 5, and private foundation support, these six cohort efforts were developed with similar goals: (1) To increase and retain a pool of B.A.-level professionals in the ECE field with culturally, linguistically, and professionally diverse backgrounds; (2) To invest in institutional change at colleges and universities in order to expand their capacity to provide appropriate and accessible B.A. programs for ECE practitioners; and (3) To assure that degree recipients are able to demonstrate and articulate professional competencies that are appropriate to the degree obtained. In 2007, the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment began implementing a five-year longitudinal study of each student cohort, as well as periodic examinations of institutional change at selected colleges and universities. In its first two years, the Learning Together study of B.A. completion cohort programs for working adults in ECE explored students' perspective on the supports and services that facilitated their higher education access and success and the impact of the educational experience on their professional practice. Year 3 interviews provided students' perspectives about two issues of concern about higher education programs--the accessibility of practicum experiences for employed students and the adequacy of attention in the curriculum to working with children from linguistically diverse backgrounds. Year 3 interviews also asked graduates about support at their jobs for ongoing development as professionals and changes in position and/or compensation improvements upon completing their degree. Of the 103 graduates eligible to participate in the Year 3 interview, 92 did so, representing a response rate of 89 percent. Study findings include: (1) The vast majority of the linguistically and culturally diverse population of students participating in six B.A. completion cohort programs offering financial and academic supports succeeded in completing their degrees in the anticipated time frame, reported that their studies led to improved practice in their jobs, and were interested in continuing their formal education by obtaining an advanced degree; (2) While most graduates reported that their practicum experiences helped them do a better job at their workplace, they also identified areas for improvement, including greater opportunity for off-site practica, better supervision at the practicum site, and more dedicated time to reflect with practica faculty and supervisors about their placement; (3) Graduates, two-thirds of whom work in settings serving children who speak three or more languages, reported that their B.A. classes provided them with the skills and strategies necessary to communicate with children who speak a language other than their own. The percentage of graduates who reported difficulty communicating with the children because of language barriers increased by the number of language groups in their classrooms or programs; (4) Graduates in center-based programs reported uneven opportunity and support for ongoing learning through their employment as evidenced by their varied access to professional development planning, formal and informal feedback, opportunity to consult mentors, coaches, and specialists, and participation in observation, reflection, and other professional activities; and (5) Shortly after earning their B.A. degree, about one-fifth of graduates reported job changes or promotions, slightly more than one-third reported pay increases, and none reported leaving the early care and education field. However, it is not yet possible to either determine if these developments can be attributed to their degree completion or to identify patterns in graduate career trajectories. Appended are: (1) Study Design; and (2) Individual Cohort Tables. (Contains 11 figures, 21 tables and 7 footnotes.) [For Year 2 report, see ED511844.
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